‘Then they will deliver you to tribulation and will kill you’. In this prophecy is found Jesus’ sober warning that has been born out by the testimony of the book of Acts. Persecution would precede the destruction of the Temple in the first century even as it will the second coming of Christ and the end of the age.
The history of the Church is written in the blood of her martyrs. Tribulation, though intended to extinquish the Faith, actually inflames the true Believers and ignites revival quicker than a thousand preachers. Rather than a thing to to be feared, persecution is a thing to be embraced as it prunes away the pretenders and purifies the faithful.
There are some who teach that these passages do not refer to the Church, but rather to the nation of Israel. However, all three Gospels note that the persecution will arise because of Jesus’ Name. That excludes the Israelites who, to this day, deny Jesus as the Messiah. These prophecies, then, are given to those who hold to the Name of Christ ... to the Disciples initially, and through them, to the Christian Church through the ages.
There are others who teach that God will not allow His Church to endure the tribulation. This passage and the history of the Church exposes that kind of thinking as naive and shortsighted. None other than our Lord told us to expect tribulation. Do we have the authority to teach otherwise? The preachers who would deny this may very well be setting up their people for a major disappointment and possibly, make them vulnerable to denying the faith and even betraying those who do not. To be betrayed by one’s enemy is expected, but to be betrayed by one’s friend or even family members, will be the most difficult thing to endure. That a father would betray his child, or a child his/her parent, exposes the evil and fear that will envelope that final period. The final years will be the supreme test of our faith!
We must expect to be tested, for our Lord has already forewarned us! We would do well to heed His warning and prepare ourselves for the tribulation that will come, and even has come, upon many of our brothers and sisters in Christ today!